Newsom Chooses Progressive Filipino American Lawmaker As Top Cop
Speaker 1: 00:00 California assemblyman, Rob Bonta has been chosen by governor Gavin Newsome to become the state's next attorney general upon his appointment. Bonta would be the first Asian American to occupy the position of attorney general, a notable milestone, which comes at a time of increased anti-Asian American hate across the nation. In particular, Filipino Americans comprise the largest ethnic group in San Diego behind Latinos, and are by far the most populous Asian American community in the area. San Diego activists and Filipino resource center director. Joanne fields says that bond has appointment is a huge step forward for the community. Speaker 2: 00:38 The appointment of Rob Bonta to become California's next attorney general is really promising of what other opportunities that will be afforded for other Filipinos and Asian Pacific Islanders to run for office and to aspire, to lead in the community. Speaker 1: 00:58 Joining me to discuss Rob Bonta, his appointment as attorney general is K Q E D politics and government editor, Scott Schafer. Scott. Welcome. Hi Jade. So where does Bonta is Ascension to one of the state's highest offices fit in with the current reckoning we're having as a nation and understanding the extent of violence and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islander? Speaker 3: 01:21 Well, obviously Rob Bonta, if he's confirmed by the legislature, which is all, but certain, uh, will become the first Filipino American to be attorney general in California. I would venture to guess perhaps the United States of America. And, uh, that's significant. The thing about attorneys general though, is that sometimes they come into the office with reputations of being progressive as did Javier Bissera and Kamala Harris before that. And then sometimes, uh, you know, the advocates were a little disappointed that they don't go far enough and I'll give you just one example. And that would be how Javier Bissera withheld police records, uh, after the passage of a law KQBD and other news organizations had to fight him to get some of those records released. So we will see, I mean, certainly Rob Bonta is coming into this job with a reputation as a criminal justice reformer. He was endorsed by people like Alicia Garza from black lives matter, uh, but expectations will be high, but he is going to meet some of their expectations and hopes. Speaker 1: 02:17 And can you give us a brief overview of his political career so far? What led governor Newsome to nominate him? Speaker 3: 02:23 He knows him from, uh, probably, uh, going all the way back to when Newsome was mayor of San Francisco, Rob Bonta worked as a deputy city attorney, uh, for, uh, about a decade or so. Um, and then he was elected to the state assembly from, uh, representing the East Bay, Oakland and Alameda and other parts of the East Bay in 2012. Uh, and he's been reelected easily, uh, ever since, uh, and they have a relationship they're both Bay area. Politicians they've come to know each other. I got the impression yesterday at the press conference, uh, that the governor knows Bonta his family, uh, Fanta, his wife met when they were 17 years old and, uh, you know, sort of high school sweetheart situation. And so they've been close they're allies. And I think, you know, one thing that Gavin Newsome was looking for as any governor would is someone who would be quote unquote, loyal. You know, somebody who's going to be an ally, especially going into a possible recall, and then reelection campaign. Uh, you want to have an attorney general who you can trust Speaker 1: 03:21 As he steps into the most powerful law enforcement office in the state of California. It is notable that Bonta has spoken out against harsher penalties for perpetrators of hate crime, uh, that some have advocated for, Speaker 4: 03:34 I've heard people say that there's a hate crime let's issue the death penalty. That's not the place to go for me. We have enough enhancements and enough mass incarceration enough over sentencing. Speaker 1: 03:45 You have a sense of what his relationship is with the law enforcement community and how we can expect him to interact with them during this 10 year. Speaker 3: 03:53 Yeah, well, the attorney general is the, you know, they sometimes refer to them as the top cop and they have to have good relationships or at least working relationships with each County district attorney, as well as sheriffs, local law enforcement police and so on. But, you know, Bonta is somebody who has been, has embraced criminal justice reforms, uh, in the, in the shape of prop 47 and prop 57 that voters approved. He has passed a legislation that bans private prisons, uh, he opposes cash bail. He also supports more oversight and investigation of police shootings. So right away, you can see that those are not positions that most law enforcement officials, especially district attorneys embrace. So the initial reaction from the district attorney's association, at least the predominant one, there's a sort of a rogue group of more liberal district attorneys. They were cheered by his appointment, but, uh, I think that the district attorney's group in California was pretty congratulatory, but not much more. I'm sure they're taking a wait and see attitude. Speaker 1: 04:57 And if you could talk a bit about the political landscape Bonta will be stepping into as the incoming attorney general. Speaker 3: 05:03 Yeah, well, of course, California has been the tip of the spear against the Trump administration, uh, Javier, but Sarah who's now the health and human services secretary filed about 120 lawsuits on a huge range of issues against the federal government on the, uh, on immigration, on healthcare women's health, LGBT rights. And so though that kind of confrontational approach me AIG is no longer needed with the Biden administration now in place and very friendly to California. And so they will have to sort of figure out new priorities. I would imagine that he will be focusing on things like environmental justice and environmental regulations on health care, consumer advocacy, as well as the more bread and butter issues of public safety that attorneys general always focused on. Speaker 1: 05:51 I've been speaking with Scott Schafer, senior editor for KQ EDS, politics and government desk. Scott, thank you so much for joining Speaker 5: 05:58 Us. Speaker 6: 06:13 [inaudible].